Water forces last deep mine in the North-East to close

The last deep coal mine in the north-east of England is set to close with the loss of 340 jobs.

Ellington Colliery in Northumberland was flooded with millions of gallons of water two weeks ago and owner UK Coal has now said the pit must close for safety reasons.

Efforts to remove the water proved unsuccessful and UK Coal said it had no choice but to close the pit. Workers would receive redundancy payments based on length of service and statutory requirements.

UK Coal chief executive, Gerry Spindler, told the BBC: “The loss of any mine in these circumstances is a bitter blow, particularly for our employees and the local communities in which they live.

“However the safety of our employees is paramount. Whilst we have contained the flow, the face is flooded and mining adjacent reserves carries unacceptable levels of risk.”

The National Union of Mineworkers chairman, Ian Lavery, said: “It is absolutely ridiculous to play the safety card on an issue such as this.”

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